Swap basketball star and ex-soldier for arms dealer and zoo killer?

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Of: Markus Hofstetter


Grain exports from Ukraine start, more ships leave the country. Meanwhile, two celebrities are causing a stir, both positive and negative. The news ticker.

  • Putin’s cancellation on UN: At the United Nations General Assembly, the leader of the Kremlin is represented by Lavrov.
  • grain export from Ukraine: Shipping corridor through the Russian blockade is no longer a one-way street.
  • In Russia convicted American basketball player: Diplomat expects Britney Griner to be released.
  • This News sticker to negotiations in Ukraine the war is constantly updated.

Update from 8 August at 19.50: The World Bank announces an additional $4.5 billion in financial assistance to Ukraine. The government in Kiev should be able to use the money provided by the US to pay pensions and salaries, among other things. Among other things, it is about maintaining the health, education and social services in Ukraine in order to prevent a further deterioration of the population’s living conditions. The new aid money is part of an aid package for Ukraine totaling 8.5 billion dollars (a good 8.3 billion euros), which the United States has promised through the World Bank.

Ukraine war: Putin prefers to send Lavrov to the UN General Assembly

Update from 8 August at 17.40: The UN General Assembly in September will take place without Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin chief will not make a speech, and the Russian delegation at this year’s meeting will instead be led by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. This comes from a presidential decree. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the president will also not appear virtually before the meeting this year.

Putin last appeared at the 75th UN General Assembly in September 2020, promoting the Russian Covid vaccine Sputnik V. With his absence in a few weeks, he avoids discussions about the Ukraine war, which is likely to dominate the meeting. Among others, US President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will appear.

However, Putin’s refusal to travel to New York is not a sure sign that the Russian president will not attend the G20 summit in Indonesia. Western politicians want to prevent him from appearing there, but the Kremlin itself has so far left participation open.

Update from 8 August at 15.49: A video by right-wing extremists shows Robert Habeck (The Greens) as the culprit in a lawsuit over his party’s sanctions policy – ​​the Federal Ministry of Economy is now taking action against the clip. “We have reported the video to Facebook for review under the Network Enforcement Act and removal. We are also looking into the matter from a legal standpoint,” it said dpa-Inquiry with.

In the video, which was originally available on the QAnon conspiracy movement’s Telegram channel on August 8, a man in a red and orange prison suit with a sack over his head and handcuffs is shown in a vehicle. The person is obviously meant to represent Habeck. A voice can be heard announcing an alleged sentence: “You, Robert Habeck, are sentenced by the people to 16 weeks in the pillory of the local market square.”

At the end of the video, a demonstration is announced in Heidenau near Dresden, where a Habeck actor is to be pilloried. Had the online portal first day 24 reported on it. According to the public prosecutor’s office in Dresden, there is an investigation into this case. Incitement to commit a crime is a criminal offence. The far-right micro-party “Freie Sachsen” has recently mobilized Monday demonstrations in Heidenau against rising energy prices.

Russia sanctions: Scholz sees no waning support among Germans

Update from 8 August at 14.17: Do Germans still support Russia sanctions? Olaf Scholz (SPD) apparently sees no change of opinion on this issue. The chancellor sees “no shortage or waning support for these measures,” government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said in Berlin.

It is clear that the cut in gas supply “creates challenges for all of us”, he added, referring to the various measures put in place for the autumn and winter. Referring to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Hebestreit said it has not been approved and will not be approved. Scholz rules out revising this decision.

“Two for Two” Prisoner Swap: Basketball Star and Ex-Soldier for Arms Dealer and Zoo Killer?

First report from August 8: Munich – Following the end of the Russian naval blockade, a cargo ship has docked in a Ukrainian port for the first time. “The bulk carrier Fulmar S has arrived at the port of Chornomorsk and is ready for loading,” the Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure announced on its Telegram channel.

Grain exports from Ukraine: So far, eight ships have left the port

So far, eight ships with grain have left Ukrainian ports since the beginning of August. They were among dozens of cargo ships stranded there since the war began in February due to the Russian naval blockade and the Ukrainian military’s mining of its own ports.

With the arrival of the Fulmar S, the grain corridor now has an “entrance and exit”, explained Infrastructure Minister Olexander Kubrakow. Meanwhile, Lebanon is still waiting for the first ship loaded with Ukrainian grain. The cargo ship “Razoni” left the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odessa last Monday.

US citizens detained in Russia: ‘two for two’ exchange expected

Former US diplomat Bill Richardson is confident a prisoner swap can be negotiated with Russia to free basketball player Brittney Griner, who has been sentenced to nine years in prison for drug trafficking. “I am optimistic,” the former US ambassador to the United Nations said Sunday on the television station ABC. “I think she will be released. I think she’s following the right strategy with regret.”

Basketball Player Laughing
A Russian court has sentenced American basketball player Brittney Griner to nine years in prison for illegal possession of drugs. © Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Reuters/AP/dpa

Although Richardson emphasized that he was only indirectly involved in possible negotiations, he appeared to be very well informed. In his own words, he expects a “two for two” prisoner exchange to free former US soldier Paul Whelan, who is being held in Russia.

According to media reports, Griner and Whelan may be traded for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. It is not yet clear who the other Russian could be. According to American information, Russia had demanded the release of Russian Vadim K., who had been sentenced to life imprisonment in Germany for the Tiergarten murder.

Celebrities in the Ukraine War: Roger Waters vs. Jessica Chastain

Meanwhile, Oscar winner Jessica Chastain visited a children’s hospital in Kiev on Sunday (August 7) ​​and later the Kiev suburb of Irpin, which became known for Russian war crimes. In the evening, she, like other big Hollywood stars, was received by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelenskyy and American actress Jessica Chastain
Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelenskyy and American actress Jessica Chastain met in Kiev. (August 7, 2022) © Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/dpa/picture alliance/AP

Meanwhile, another display size drew displeasure. British musician Roger Waters, ex-Pink Floyd frontman, provoked outrage in Kiev and applause in Moscow with comments on the Russian war of aggression. At the beginning of the war he had described the Russian attack as a gangster act, but now he blamed US President Joe Biden, which pleased Russia’s ex-president Dmitry Medvedev. “There are still enough people in the West. Pink Floyd forever,” he wrote on his page on the social network vkontakte.

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